Alma 60 – Danger of Judging another’s Story

Remember last time: Moroni is full of righteous indignation, thinking the governor is indifferent to their plight. He writes directly to Pahoran, anger evident in his words.

He condemns him for not helping the war effort. He says his men and Helaman’s have suffered much thirst and hunger and fatigue because provisions and men have not been sent out—and that is the government’s job. He chastises Pahoran for neglecting them and causing thousands to be slaughtered. He wants to know the cause of this neglect and “your thoughtless state.” (6) He accuses him of neglect and apathy and tells him that “ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people.” (10)

Moroni blames him for the deaths of so many soldiers, who have fought for their people, even as they were hungry and weak. He accuses him again of “exceeding slothfulness, yea, even the slothfulness of our government, and their exceedingly great neglect towards their brethren, yea, towards those who have been slain.” (14)

Moroni gives an accurate recount of where their weakness started:

Yea, had it not been for the war which broke out among ourselves, yea, were it not for these king-men, who caused so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, at the time we were contending among ourselves, if we had united our strength as we hitherto have done; yea, had it not been for the desire of power and authority which those king-men had over us; had they been true to the cause of our freedom, and united with us, and gone forth against our enemies, instead of taking up their swords against us, which was the cause of so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word.”

Alma 60:16

Do we see this inner contention among ourselves today? Are we at war with our friends and family because of opinions we hold?

Can we do a better job at being uniters? Think of the good we could accomplish if we stopped bickering about politics and went forth each day united with others in the strength of the Lord.

I believe the devil loves how divided we are at this time in the world, in our nations, in our religions, in our communities and homes.

When you get up each day, kneel down and pray for help to see between truth and error and ask for God’s help to unite people, not sow more seeds of discord. There are plenty of those weeds in the world already. We need to sow seeds of mercy, love, kindness, tolerance, and understanding.

Moroni writes how dangerous the king-men are. Then he accuses Pahoran of maybe being part of these evil men.

For we know not but what ye yourselves are seeking for authority. We know not but what ye are also traitors to your country.”

Alma 60:18

That seems to be the ultimate insult. Moroni next infers that Pahoran might be an idle coward, content to be in the heart of safety in the government, while he neglects those who fight for freedom.

Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.”

Alma 60:23

He calls Pahoran to repentance and “to be up and doing.” (24) If he doesn’t, he threatens to come up against the capital and clean the inner vessel.

Moroni says he will leave part of his men to maintain that part of the land and “I will leave the strength and the blessings of God upon them, that none other power can operate against them—(25)”

That is some mighty power. “And this because of their exceeding faith, and their patience in their tribulations.” (26) And he will cause insurrection in the capital and make the king men extinct. Moroni believes Pahoran guilty of iniquity and insolence. And he believes that has caused his men to suffer out in the battle zone.

Moroni’s anger is justifiable. His men are suffering. He is suffering. And they are not receiving the help they expected from the government. He tells Pahoran that he doesn’t fear his authority or power. He only fears God.

Moroni’s righteous indignation causes him to accuse and judge Pahoran of a lot of things—being a traitor to his country, slothfulness, wickedness, love of glory and vain things of the world, love of power, being in with the king-men, trampling the laws of God under his feet.

Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet. Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them.”

Alma 60:33

The point to remember as we read Moroni’s letter is that Pahoran is innocent of all his accusations. The capital is in dire circumstances that Moroni knows nothing about. His righteous indignation has caused him to judge a good man wrongly.

In the next chapter, we will see Pahoran’s response—one of my favorite chapters in the whole Book of Mormon. The governor had reason to be offended and ticked off at Moroni’s assumptions and false accusations.

Moroni closes his epistle: “Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.” (36)

We will be accused or judged wrongly in our lives by others who might feel righteous indignation. This can cause great offense and righteous indignation on our part. It’s easy to respond with anger or judgment back when we are attacked, but then we are just as much in the wrong as our accusers. I love this quote by David A. Bednar:

When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”

“Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense.”

And Nothing Shall Offend them, David A.Bednar (2006)

Pahoran’s Christlike response helped him triumph in a situation where he could’ve become justifiably angry and offended. But we will get to that next.

For now, let me leave you with these questions to ponder:

How do you respond and react to others when they accuse, blame, or label you, without knowing your heart?

Do you choose to act as a free agent, or do you let yourself be acted upon?

Do you ever get worked up about politics or religion or social issues so much that you feel righteous indignation, which leads you to assign motives to others’ hearts, when you truly have no idea how their heart and mind work?

Have you ever judged another, without knowing their story? (hint-hint: if you’ve judged anyone at all, you’ve done this. We only know our own stories, and those not quite as well as we probably should).

How can we do better at not reacting in offense, but acting with intent to unite and love others, as our Savior Jesus Christ would do if He were here?

If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these comments.

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